Together, I Can Bless Others
The message I'm going to share with you today is really important. In fact, it can make a major change in your life for the better. It's one of those sermons where I hope I can do a good job, and I'm going to give it my best shot. I'm asking God to help me because if I can teach this principle the way I really want to, I promise that every one of you is going to benefit from it. If you can apply it to your life, I promise you the result will be better emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. This is the kind of message that 99% of the people in the world have absolutely no understanding or application of. But I promise you, it's a message that can really change your life. I'm doing a series, as you know, on God’s promises. I'm talking about how God’s covenant relationship with his children is a two‑way deal -- a partnership with God. Once you and I do our part, God comes alongside and some marvelous things happen.
Today, I want to talk to you about how to be a blessing to other people. Let's start with God’s covenant with Abraham. Clear back in Genesis 12, God says to Abraham, “Now the Lord said to Abraham, ‘I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great. And so you shall be a blessing, and in you all the families in the earth shall be blessed.’” Take your pen out. I want you to underline where God tells Abraham, "I will bless you." Then I want you to go a half line over and circle the word "so." "I will bless you so..." and then underline the next phrase, "you shall be a blessing." You see,
God's covenant with Abraham included...
1. God being a blessing to Abraham.
2. Abraham being a blessing to others.
Now, we’re going to see in a moment how this covenant that God gave to Abraham. goes completely across to the New Testament and applies to us. But let's just think about the Old Testament for a moment. God did great things for the descendants of Abraham.
When the children of Israel were in captivity in Egypt, God walked alongside and said, "I'm going to deliver you from the hard hand and heart of Pharaoh, and I'm going to give you a Promised Land." And then the plagues, the Passover, the Red Sea, and all of a sudden the children of Israel are taken out of that incredible bondage and slavery.
Now, why did God do that? God was a blessing to the children of Israel so that other nations would see how he was blessing them, realize that he was the living and true God and turn toward him. The problem was not God's blessing, the problem was that the children of Israel, their incredible selfishness and ingratitude, basically went around murmuring, complaining, and chasing after other gods and other nations. Instead of being a peculiar, beautiful, blessed nation, taking all the good things God was giving them and allowing them to be a blessing to others, they were greedy, and ungrateful and selfish, and pretty soon lost their identity and the beauty that God had intended them to have.
Take some of the great stories we love in the Bible. The story of David killing Goliath. Why was that? So that the Philistines would see that the God of Israel was a great God and worship him. Daniel in the lions' den. Why did this marvelous miracle happen where the lions’ mouths were shut? As King Darius said, so that “every knee in that nation would bow to the God of Daniel.” You see, as you go throughout the Old Testament, you see God blessing his people for a reason: so that they could, in turn, be a blessing to others. I find it is a principle almost entirely lost in the Christian community. I find most Christians could better be described, instead of as givers who pass the blessing on, as soakers, sponges. We grab hold of that blessing and hoard it, and hold it, and clutch it, and then wonder why the blessing doesn't continue to come. Because we've never learned to pass it on.
Application of the covenant today:
1. This covenant is for the church of today. Luke 22:20
I'm talking about us, Christian believers. Just as God had a covenant with the children of Israel, he has one with us as his children. Let me illustrate.
Turn to Luke 22:20. Here we can see our Lord having the Last Supper with the disciples, right before Gethsemane, and the trial, and the cross. “After the meal, he took another cup of wine in his hands, and then he said, ‘This is my blood. It is poured out for you, and with it God makes his new agreement.’” As Jesus sat down with his disciples, something special happened. With the taking of the bread and the cup in this communion time together, God ushered in a new agreement. The old covenant with Abraham became something of the past, as God made a new covenant with the church through Jesus Christ.
2. This covenant is for us to pass on to others. Luke 6:12-13
When God gives us these promises, he does so with the intent that we are going to pass them on to others. I was listening to a tape by Paul Nanney, in a Sunday school class here, on the subject of being a blessing. It had something in there that I loved and so I've taken it.
Now, folks, if I stopped right now and asked, "Okay. How many of you want to receive blessings from God?" every hand would be raised. We all want God to bless us, our families, our children, our health. We want him to bless us financially, and in every way. God wants to do that. But, let me tell you something, you and I are responsible to take what God has given to us and pass it on to other people.
Luke 6:12-13, "About that time Jesus went off to a mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night there. The next morning he called his disciples together, and he chose 12 of them to be his apostles." Why did he choose 12 to be apostles? He was starting a new nation, the nucleus of a new community. There were 12 tribes in the Old Testament, so now in the New Testament he's taking 12 men to make up this new community for his new covenant relationship. Three years later, at their Last Supper, he said, "And I have made this new agreement with you."
This Luke 6 passage we're going to deal with now is known as "The Sermon on The Mount," where our Lord begins to lay out all kind of blessings. Now, the Jewish people understood the blessings of God to be physical health, material blessings -- their barns would be full, their families would be taken care of.
The blessing Jesus promises is determined by our attitude. Luke 6:20-49
That's why this passage is called the Beatitudes.
A. Circumstances. vv. 20-26
B. People. vv. 27-38
Now, I only have time to work with one of them this morning, so I'm going to work with our attitude toward people.
Jesus’ teaches about our attitude toward people...
A. Realize that some will obey and others will not.
Interestingly enough, He starts this teaching in this area. Look at verse 27. “This is what I say to all who will listen to me.” Isn't that amazing? As much as I want you to get this principle today, even Jesus knew that some of you will listen and some won't.
I've always been amazed as I've watched people leave this service. I mean some have stuff under their belt that's going to be life‑changing, and they're walking out of here planning how they’ll use it. And I watch others walk out, yawning and bored. Same message, same hour, same preacher. What happened? You see, taking and passing on the blessing I'm talking about is your choice, not mine. One of the greatest days of my ministry was when I realized that I am responsible to you, but not for you. I'm responsible to teach you these truths, but hey, it's your choice. Some of you will walk out of here and become incredible recipients of blessings of God. Others will walk out, and you’ll go through life wondering, “Why is it that that person's blessed and I'm not?”
B. Treat others as you want to be treated. vv. 27-31
Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.
Now, that's known as the Golden Rule. "Love your enemies and be good to everyone who hates you." Now, I'm going to stop right there. Folks, don't read anymore. There's no sense in going to the next verse until I talk about this one. God says, “Do you want blessings? I've got all kinds of blessings for you. I can bless you financially, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I'm ready to dump this incredible covenant relationship on you. If you want to receive it, love your enemies.”
Now, I could stop here and dismiss the service. Because many of you who are God's children, absolutely do not walk high road at all in this area. Some of you are low-road livers, people who carry grudges. You're mad, wanting to get even with somebody. You're not speaking to somebody. You’ve got family walls and chasms that you need to knock down and ask forgiveness for. You see, you want the blessings of God, but you don't love your enemies. Look at verse 28, "Ask God to bless anyone who curses you." Try that on the freeway. “Pray for everyone who is cruel to you.” Do you do that, say, "God, my boss is unbearable, bless him. Bless his kids. Bless the business."? Now you say, "John, this stuff is not possible." Yes, it is. Quit rationalizing, quit excusing yourself. Jesus isn't going to tell you to do something you can't do. I'll tell you what, if you're not living by this standard, it has nothing to do with not being able to live it. It has everything to do with not wanting to live it. It's your choice.
Now, don’t live low road, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, smack somebody around that smacks you, flip somebody off that flips you, beep at somebody, holler at somebody, and then wonder why God doesn't bless you, take care of you and put a hedge of protection around your family. Folks, quit wimping, grow up. Don't go walking out of church saying, "How is this guy so blessed? And that family seems to have a hedge of protection around them." I can tell you why: they made a choice to love their enemies and not live like the world.
I don't have any enemies. Now, I have people who don't like me. That's their problem. I love nothing more than to hug the people who don't like me. Drives them crazy. You see, I learned a long time ago not to let somebody else’s behavior toward me determine my behavior toward them. That's their problem. Keep on loving, keep on smiling. I'll never forget a custodian in my last church back in Ohio. He was a killer, I'm telling you. On Saturday night he used to show me the floors he had buffed. I'm telling you, they looked so nice and they'd shine. You could see your reflection in them. And he'd stand back and say, "Look at that, Pastor, look how nice those look." I'd say, "You're right, Bob, they're beautiful."
But on Sunday, people came to church and walked on those floors. And I'll tell you, by Sunday afternoon he was in a punk because all those people had walked on his floors and scuffed them up. I mean, he wouldn't talk to anybody. He'd be miserable. He'd make his wife miserable. He'd make his kids miserable. He didn't realize that church was kind of for people. Major miss in his life. I watched him become sour on life and on people. I watched him become sour on me. I mean, I saw him get to the place where he wouldn't talk to me. I'd say, "How’re you doing, Bob?" And he'd just turn away -- now don't ever do that to me, because I'll just keep on loving you. I'd just follow him and put my arms around him. And when I put my arms around him, he'd just stiffen up and cross his arms like this. Did you ever hug anybody like that? Not exactly the warmest feeling you'll ever get in life.
But I just hugged him and loved him. Never quit talking to him. You see, Bob's got problems, but I'm not going to let his incredible, stinking, rotten, ungodly attitude ever mess me up. See, the moment I decide to act like you, I become like you. It's a choice.
You're sitting there saying, "But Pastor, you don't know what they did to me." I don't care. It doesn't matter. Big deal. My issue is not what they did to you, it’s what you're doing to yourself by harboring bitterness and anger and strife. Some of you need to grow up. Some of you had horrible relationships in the past, and it's time for you to give them up and go on. It's time for you to move on to another day and have a new thought, one that's positive, good, healing, healthy. He says, I want to bless you, but you have to be a high‑road liver.
C. Give for the right reasons. vv. 32-36
- Wrong reasons to give: vv. 32-34
1) Because somebody has given to you. Look at verse 32, "If you love only somebody who loves you, will God praise you for that? Even sinners love people who love them." Don't say, “They smiled at me, so I smiled at them. They were nice to me so I was nice to them. They complimented me so I complimented them.” Even people who don't love God do that. If you just return something nice for something nice, that's no big deal; sinners do that.
2) For the praise of people. He says it's either the pressure of people or the praise of people. Don't you love these people who say, "You know, I think you bought lunch last time in 1976 so it's my turn. If I remember right, it was $8.23." What a miserable way to live. You folks that keep score, don't you get tired of that? Don't you get migraine headaches trying to remember who you're mad at?
- Right reasons to give: vv. 35-36
1) Because it’s what God expects.
2) Because it’s what God has modeled.
I can still remember my Grandpa Maxwell on his little farm in his 80s, planting trees. And the conversation went something like this: "Grandpa, you're getting pretty old and these trees that you're planting here are never going to bear fruit in your lifetime." And Grandpa says, "John, that's true. I'm not planting these trees for me. I'm planting them for the next generation. Because when I grew up I picked fruit off of trees that somebody else had planted for me."
And then he told me something I'll never forget: "John, some people live for just present value. All they live for is what they're going to receive. So they only give if they think they're going to get something back real quick. But some people live for future value. They live not only for themselves but for the next generation. They believe they have a responsibility to give, not because they’ll receive anything from it, but because the next generation will be blessed. And John, some people live for another kind of value that most people don't understand, and that is eternal value. Things that will live beyond themselves, for only God to recognize."
4. What you sow, you will reap. vv. 37-38
Understand how life is. What you put into it is what you get out of it. So when you're getting what you don't want to get out of it, don't go around wondering why. He says it's because you sowed it.
Jesus said in verse 37, “Don't judge others, and God won't judge you.” Don't be hard on others, and God will not be hard on you. Don't you understand how life is? If you're critical towards others, guess what others will be towards you. Critical. Folks, read my lips. Life's not complicated. Jesus just gives us a few principles and just says, “If you just would live these principles, I’ll have an incredible blessing for you.” It is not an unachievable life; it's just one that requires a will and obedience. Now, watch this. “Forgive others, and God will forgive you.” If you're having a hard time forgiving others, you’d just better talk to God about it because he might decide not to forgive you on that issue.
“If you give to others, you will be given the full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, spilling over into your lap.” That's a bunch of blessing there, isn't it? The way you treat others is the way you'll be treated.
I read recently in two health studies; one from the University of Missouri and the other from the Institute of Health in New York City. Listen to this. At the University of Missouri, they found that people who lived the longest were those that helped others and enjoyed social relationships. The study in New York found that people who help others get what they call a “helper's high,” and they report better health and an improved sense of well‑being in their life. Now, that's not the Bible, or Sunday morning church, or Sunday school class, or a HOME group. That's a bunch of medical personnel asking why one person lives longer than another. Why does one seem to have good mental health and one doesn't? And they conclude that people with good mental health are givers and people with bad mental health are takers. That people that have ulcers and stress and anxiety go through life wondering if somebody's got something they don't have. Isn't it amazing, the scientific community finally finds out what Jesus tells us so simply. Begin to be a giver in life.
In fact, I love what Richard Foster says in Money, Sex and Power:
“Giving with a glad and generous heart has a way of rooting out the tough old miser within us. Even the poor need to know that they can give. Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed.”
Jesus says, “I want to pour out unbelievable blessings upon you. I want to bless your family, I want to bless your health, I want to bless you financially. But when you walk low road, you don't meet the conditions and you’re not blessable.” Anybody who’s heard this message today has just heard Jesus say, "If you become a giver in your lifestyle, I'll bless you unbelievably." Now folks, that's not complicated. Anybody with a three-digit I.Q. can understand that one. The issue is not understanding. The issue is making the choice to obey that truth and living it, then watching God bless you. All right. You see the little trust account transfer? Pull it out. I like this. This is something I want you to give to somebody else. On the first line, “From the trust account of...” ‑‑ put your name there. For “To the trust account of...” ‑‑put the name of somebody that you need to bless by doing something for them.
[The following card was produced at Skyline and placed in the bulletin. Create something similar to distribute to your congregation.]
Trust Account Transfer
Please Accept This Transfer,
From the TRUST ACCOUNT of:
To the TRUST ACCOUNT of:
They should be rich in good works... always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. I Timothy 6:18 (TLB)
Now, listen folks, I'm not talking about money. Don't you even think about giving them money. I'm talking about maybe giving somebody some time, maybe you need to listen to somebody. Young high school kids, maybe there are young couples that don't have much money and some of you ought to give a free night of babysitting. Start giving. Quit hoarding, quit being stingy. Quit wondering why you go through life sick, and get well. Physically, mentally, spiritually, become a giver.
Father, I thank you for this day, and I pray your blessings upon us as a congregation as we become givers. Help us Lord. God, right now there are some people in this room, all they've done their whole life is take. They don't have a clue how to give. God, help us, forgive us, change us, help us to make good choices. Help us become recipients of this incredible covenant relationship you have for us. Help us receive the blessings you have for us by becoming a blessing to others. This I pray. And all God's people said, amen.
God's covenant with Abraham included...
1. Being a blessing to Abraham, and
2. Being a blessing to all other nations.
Application of the covenant today:
1. This covenant is for the ________________of________________ . Luke 22:20
2. This covenant is for us to________________ to ________________ . Luke 6:12-13
The blessing Jesus promises is determined by our:
1. ________________ - vv. 20-26
2. ________________ - vv. 27-38
3. ________________ - vv. 39-45
4. ________________ - vv. 46-49
Jesus teaches about our attitudes toward people...
A. Realize that some will ________________ and others will ________________ .v. 27
B. ________________ others as you want to be ________________ . vv. 27-31.
Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.
C. ________________ for the right ________________ . vv. 32-36
- Wrong reasons to give: vv. 32-34
- Because somebody has ________________
- For the ________________ of ________________ .
Right reasons to give: vv. 35-36
1) Because it’s what God .
2) Because it’s what God has .
D. What you ________________ , you will ________________ vv. 37-3
Giving with glad and generous hearts has a way of rooting out the tough old miser within us. Even the poor need to know that they can give. Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed. Richard J. Foster, Money, Sex, & Power
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